Monday, January 2, 2012

Unwrapping: It's a New Year!

Happy New Year Everyone ...It's a New Year, 2012!

It's hard to believe sometimes that we are actually in the 21st Century but now it's actually the year 2012. I think back to a time when the turn of the century seemed so far off that I couldn't even imagine living in it and now we're already this far into it. The years go by faster and faster, I suppose partly because I'm getting older and time seems to pass us by faster as we get older. I'm reminded of the adage 'Time Flies When You're Having Fun' - I suppose that's true in some respects but are we really having so much fun that it's the reason why time speeds us by as we get older? I don't think so ... but it's a nice thought.

Well, with the New Year comes the tradition of making (and breaking) New Year resolutions. Have you ever wondered where that tradition came from? Well, I have so I did a little research.

The tradition of New Year Resolutions can be traced as far back as about 150 B.C. when a mythical king of early Rome named Janus was placed at the head of the calendar. It's from Janus that we get the word January, hence January is the first month of our calendar year.

Janus had two faces, one to look upon past events and the other to look forward to the future.  Janus was the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans sought forgiveness from their enemies by making resolutions to change their ways.  Janus was also the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances which is why the symbol of Janus adorns many doorways throughout Europe and elsewhere in the world.

So every year, as we look back upon the year we are leaving behind, we tend to make resolutions in the hope that it will make the coming year better but how many of us actually keep those resolutions? I know that I try every year to stick to my resolutions but sometimes I think I've already sabotaged myself because I expect more than I can deliver. My resolution for the past two years is to finally finish my 2 (yes, 2) works in progress. I will say that I am absolutely, positively, without a doubt, hopeful that I will finish at least one of them.  ; )

How about you?

Then there are all those little things that we traditionally do in hopes of making our resolutions stick and we stick to our resolutions. Some folks eat only lasagna on New Year's Day, others it's black-eyed peas and collard greens. I've often wondered if it really made a difference but I'm sure those who follow such traditions will also swear by them.

Throughout the world, there are many different New Year traditions that are supposed to bring good luck to those who practice them. For example, in Greece, a special New Year's bread called Vassilopita or St. Basil's cake is baked (January 1 is also St. Basil's Day in honor of a 4th Century Orthodox Bishop).  A coin is placed inside the cake and when the cake is sliced - the first slice is for the Christ child, the second for the father of the household and the third slice is for the house - if the third slice holds the coin, spring will come early that year.

In Norway, they make a rice pudding and hide one whole almond inside it. The person fortunate enough to get the serving containing the lucky almond is guaranteed wealth in the coming year. 

A Very Famous Kiss in Times Square
Here in the USA, we share kisses and best wishes. Of course, we tend to share kisses whenever the opportunity arises ... a celebration is always better with a kiss!
The kiss shared at the stroke of midnight is derived from the time of masked balls which were very common throughout history in Great Britain and on the Continent.  As is tradition, the masks symbolize evil spirits from the old year and the kiss is the purification of all things bad from the old year so that those things weren't carried over into the New Year.  Much more romantic than the coin or almond in food. I keep thinking of the number of cracked teeth that came about because the lucky person found the coin while chewing.

Perhaps, we Americans just like to romanticize everything and so that's the real reason for that special kiss with someone we fancy, lust after or love - preferably the last one! New Year's wouldn't be New Year's without someone to kiss at midnight! Right?

But if we don't have that kiss at midnight will it bring us bad luck in the coming year? What about couples who are separated by distance, do they fall prey to bad luck in the year ahead because they can't kiss at midnight?  I don't believe they do - although, you have to wonder about the misfortune that has already befallen them by being separated from each other on New Year's Eve. The kiss is sweet, it's romantic and in many cases the beginning of something special which may or may not continue through the year. I've known many a relationship that began with a New Year's Eve midnight kiss and call me romantic but if you're lucky enough to have something special spring from that then you've got all the luck in the world.

Do you have any special New Year traditions that you feel make your coming year luckier, more fortunate, or help you keep those pesky resolutions? 

Well, I've got a simple resolution that even I can manage to keep - read more of my favorite authors and meet some new ones, too.

Happy Reading Everyone!

 BTW - the Winner of the copy of MY WICKED MARQUESS by Gaelen Foley is Di ... Congratulations, Di - I have no doubt you'll enjoy reading it and be hooked on the Inferno Club just as the rest of us are!


Jon's Mom said...

No New Year traditions here unless ignoring all the hoopla counts as a tradition. In the days of my youth I worked every one of them. Never experienced the "magic of the moment" myself. In fact, I rarely make it to midnight. I fall asleep early and wake up to the sound of neighbors' fireworks and dogs barking!

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Jon's Mom,
I know that tradition well. If we don't go to friends or have friends in it's all we can do to stay awake till midnight. I've had a few where the clock struck twelve to the sound of my dh snoring on the couch, had to waken him and tell him to go to bed. Take the dog out AFTER the neighbors stop the noise and fireworks and go to bed myself. LOL!
Hope you had a wonderful holidays and the New Year treats you very well ... who knows, if the Mayans are wrong and we're still around for the next one, your tradition might change with a bit of 'magic' in your life. ; )
Keep thinking romantically and thanks for visiting. : )

Beebs said...

I spent New Year's Eve at home with my youngest, same as last year. I'm making the most of it now 'cos soon he'll be off celebrating with friends girlfriends etc., just like his brother. *g*

No New Year's resolutions 'cos I never stick to them anyway. I would say read more but I don't think I could squeeze anymore in. And the TBR pile is now a tower, not enough hours in the day. *sigh*

Barbara Griffin said...

Amy - I heard that resolutions are good for you, even if not fulfilled. Through the promise of resolutions we give ourselves goals and aspirations for better things in life.
Write on .... write on.

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Beebs, there's nothing wrong with spending as much time as possible with your kids before they are off and living their own lives. Glad you had a Happy New Year with your son. As always, I'm happy to see you here. : )

Amy Valentini said...

Hi Barb, thanks for coming by for a visit. : )
I'm going to try very hard to stick to my resolution to write as much as possible and my greatest hope is see something published this year. Hope we can get together sometime soon. I think the trick is NOT too plan to far ahead then maybe we'll actually do it. : ) Love ya!

Dalila G. said...

Me and resolutions are just like water and not play nice together!! LOL!!

I try and NOT make any if I can help it. I stick to small things that I know I will do, like 3 pieces of chocolate instead of six.
I'll drink only two bottles of RC pop instead of my usual four bottles through-out the day. I LOVE my pop!!
I have to try and share my lemon cupcakes and not hide and eat them all later. See what I mean....little things that I might be able to control. ;-)

On my list for sure is definitely read more, I must make a tiny dent in my TBR tower. This I can handle and will handle with pleasure!

Have a nice day!!

Dalila G. said...

Oooops.....meant to also congratulate Di on winning MY WICKED MARQUESS, WooHoo! WTG Di!!

Amy Valentini said...

Yum, lemon cupcakes! Dalia, you're a little devil. Enjoy one for me. : )